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01/10/2014
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Florida’s Move Over Law

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*******UPDATE: Changes to Florida’s Move-Over Law Effective July 2014********

The Gainesville Auto Collision Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. discuss changes to Florida’s Move-Over Law, which went into effect July 1, 2014. Under the former law, the requirement for motorists to move-over applied only to authorized emergency vehicles and tow-truck drivers, when such vehicle were displaying audible and/or visual signals. However, pursuant to 2014 revisions to Florida Statute 316.126, motorists must now also move-over for sanitation and utility service vehicles as well, as follows:

  • Sanitation Vehicle performing a task related to the provision of sanitation services on the roadside
  • Utility Service Vehicle performing a task related to the provision of utility services on the roadside

The actual move-over procedures will remain the same, in that motorist have two options, depending on the circumstances. They can either vacate the emergency vehicle, sanitation vehicle, utility service vehicle, or wrecker. However, if movement cannot be safely accomplished, the motorist can slow their vehicle as follows: (a) 20 mph or less if the speed limit is 25 mph or more; and (b) 5 mph if the speed limit is 20 mph or less.

A summary of ALL vehicle included under Florida’s Move-over Law, as revised, is as follows:

1)      Authorized emergency vehicles – en route – audible or visual signals

2)      Authorized emergency vehicles – parked on roadside – visual signals

3)      Wrecker – parked on roadside – displaying amber rotating or flashing lights is performing roadside recovery or loading

4)      Sanitation vehicles – parked on roadside – performing sanitation related task

5)      Utility service vehicles – parked on roadside – performing utility service related task.

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***INITIAL POST: Florida’s Move-over Law (Prior to 2014 Revisions)***

If you are like many Florida drivers, you may be aware that we have a ‘Move Over Law,’ but may not know precisely what the law encompasses, or fully understand what it requires in a particular situation. The Gainesville Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. discuss this important law, in hopes that we can provide clarification, as well as promote safety awareness.

While some accidents involving law enforcement occur due to the actions of an officer, many more are caused by the negligent, reckless, or unlawful actions of another motorist, as an officer is carrying out their official duties. According to the FLHSMV, over the past fifteen years, “more than 200 law enforcement officers in the United States have died and thousands injured in a crash as a result of being on the side of the road doing their job and being hit by an oncoming vehicle.”

In 2002, Florida enacted legislation, referred to as the “Move Over Act,” as enumerated in Florida Statute 316.126 (2013). Although viewing the statute may be helpful for some, interpreting its provisions can be very difficult. Further, many of the efforts, initiatives, and safety campaigns aimed at promoting the Act, fail to explain what motorists must do in alternate scenarios (i.e. what to do when they cannot move over safely).

In recognition of the need to better inform Florida drivers, FHP recently increased its efforts to educate the public about the move over law, as part of  ‘Operation Staying Alive on Interstate 75.’ Heightened enforcement will begin Friday June 27th at midnight and continue through Sunday June 29th.  In support of these efforts, our Gainesville automobile collision attorneys discuss some of the most common areas of inquiry pertaining to the law.

Q: Who do I need to move over for?

A: Authorized emergency vehicles, including patrol cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and in some cases even tow truck drivers. The best way to determine whether a vehicle falls within the type which requires drivers to move over, is by the presence of either audible or visual signals. Audible signals include sirens, exhaust whistles, or other similar device. Visual signals include blue or red flashing lights.

Q: When do I need to move over?

A: The short and simple answer—as soon as is safely possible upon becoming aware of the authorized emergency vehicle. This applies not only to motor vehicles, but also to other road users, such as bicyclists and pedestrians.

Q: Where do I move over?

A: This depends on whether the emergency vehicle is in transit or is parked, as follows:

In transit: Pull your vehicle safely over as close as possible to the edge of the curb—clear of any intersection—and remain there until the vehicle passes.

Parked: Vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle.

Q: What if I cannot move over?

A: Again, this is dependent on whether an emergency vehicle is parked or moving.

In transit: This can be tricky, because sometimes proceeding to the curb is not the best choice, such as when other vehicles are moving towards the middle of the road. Take note of your surroundings—if you cannot see the vehicle, listen to determine the direction it is coming from. In other words, use reasonable judgment in making room for the oncoming vehicle, determining whether to remain stationary, or proceeding further if you are already in an intersection.

Parked: If you cannot vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle you MUST slow to 20 mph or less than the posted speed limit. However if the posted speed limit is under 20 mph, you must reduce your speed by at least 5 mph less than the posted limit.

Q: Are there any other exceptions?

A: Yes. If a law enforcement officer instructs you to do otherwise, you must abide by his instructions. Further, the requirement to move over for tow trucks applies only when the tow truck driver is performing a recovery or loading along the roadside.

Q: Why do I need to move over?

A: It’s the law, and a violation can result in a fine and points on you license. More importantly, failure to do so poses a public safety issue—both to the professional(s) responding to the emergency, as well as the persons requiring assistance.

The Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. understands that in some cases, it may be difficult for motorists to determine what actions are lawful given the circumstances involved. Of course, Florida legislators make a valid effort to take into consideration all potential scenarios when drafting our laws, it is not always possible to account for each and every unique scenario. As such, the best approach is adhering to the law as close as is possible, and when in doubt utilizing due care and reasonable judgment in taking necessary precautions.

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